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Shen of the Sea: Chinese Stories for Children

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A series of fascinating Chinese stories, strong in humor and rich in Chinese wisdom, in which the author has caught admirably the spirit of Chinese life and thought.


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A series of fascinating Chinese stories, strong in humor and rich in Chinese wisdom, in which the author has caught admirably the spirit of Chinese life and thought.

30 review for Shen of the Sea: Chinese Stories for Children

  1. 5 out of 5

    Samuel

    The first thing to understand is that this is probably not a book that could be written today, and it's certainly not a book that could be published today. In order to deal with it at all, we have to have that understanding up front. Although Shen of the Sea is subtitled "Chinese Stories for Children," it has no source notes of any kind, and none of the tales are recognizable versions of any standard Chinese folktales. All of the stories, in fact, seem to be either entirely Chrisman's invention, The first thing to understand is that this is probably not a book that could be written today, and it's certainly not a book that could be published today. In order to deal with it at all, we have to have that understanding up front. Although Shen of the Sea is subtitled "Chinese Stories for Children," it has no source notes of any kind, and none of the tales are recognizable versions of any standard Chinese folktales. All of the stories, in fact, seem to be either entirely Chrisman's invention, or so wildly changed from their original form as to be unidentifiable. This is true despite the fact that a large number of the tales are porquoi stories about the origin of such things as chopsticks, china plates, tea, and kites. Indeed, Chrisman's "China" is a sort of hazy fairyland, one constructed almost without relation to any place or time that may have really existed. Although there's a definite fondness for the idea of China in his writing, his grasp on the details of the country and culture is tenuous at best -- perhaps understandably so, given that he knew only a handful of words and phrases in the language, and, unlike Elizabeth Foreman Lewis and Elizabeth Coatsworth, never personally visited Asia. One simply can't read this book and expect to find cultural or historical accuracy. So, it's fairly off-putting to 21st-century eyes. It fails any given test of authenticity, and it smacks of cultural imperialism, to say the least. Those are the facts, plain and simple. And yet, Chrisman's wry humor and folk-style plotting are still effective. I found Shen of the Sea perfectly readable; it wasn't a chore to trudge through in the same way that something like Smoky, the Cowhorse was. It's more comparable to The Matchlock Gun in that the writing is perfectly fine even when the content isn't -- and if Walter Edmonds' finely-tuned prose runs circles around Chrisman's sometimes stilted English, Chrisman doesn't consistently demonize and inhumanize his non-white subjects like Edmonds does. Is that faint praise? Maybe. You certainly couldn't give Shen of the Sea to a kid without any explanation, and you might not want to give it to them at all. But like so many of the other early Newbery winners, it's hard to definitively say that Shen wasn't the most deserving book of its year. The best-remembered titles from the 1925 publishing year weren't eligible: Emily Climbs, by L.M. Montgomery (Canadian); Gallery of Children, by A.A. Milne (British); The School at the Chalet, by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer (also British). The only Honor book was Pádraic Colum's The Voyagers: Being Legends and Romances of Atlantic Discovery, which isn't one that inspires a lot of fervor. The few other eligible books that are more or less still in print aren't necessarily ones most people would argue for either: The Adventures of Little Joe Otter, by Thornton W. Burgess; Raggedy Ann's Wishing Pebble, by Johnny Gruelle; The Lost King of Oz, one of the many inferior sequels by Ruth Plumly Thompson. Maybe it's another reason to be grateful that the Newbery was instituted. If these early winners tend to be of...uneven quality, I don't think it can be argued that the state of American children's literature is orders of magnitude better than it was back when the award was instituted -- and of course, that's one of the main things the Newbery was supposed to encourage.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Donalyn

    I added a star to my rating after one of my students declared, "It wasn't awful."

  3. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    Ghastly in its cultural appropriation, but not nearly as offensive and as poorly written as Tales from a Silver Lands. This is not to say the book isn't offensive. To the modern reader, it absolutely is. But I try to read these sorts of books with my brain firmly planted in an historical context. That is, I try to think like someone from that time period reading. In that sense, I can totally see why this won the Newbery Medal. It was probably way ahead of its time (and, dare I say, likely conside Ghastly in its cultural appropriation, but not nearly as offensive and as poorly written as Tales from a Silver Lands. This is not to say the book isn't offensive. To the modern reader, it absolutely is. But I try to read these sorts of books with my brain firmly planted in an historical context. That is, I try to think like someone from that time period reading. In that sense, I can totally see why this won the Newbery Medal. It was probably way ahead of its time (and, dare I say, likely considered to be groundbreaking and "multicultural" - even though no such thing existed in the 1920s). A few of the stories were entertaining and memorable, and other were meandering and pointless. All attempted, on some level, to be porquoi tales. Without a true culturally-appropriate connection, they come across as empty, hollow, and thoroughly uninteresting: a white person's interpretation of a non-white culture. The book does serve, though, as a sturdy reminder of how far we've come. We still have a long, long, long, long way to go... but at least shit like this isn't getting churned out. As an aside, I am dreading the other Newbery Medals from this time period. I have heard nothing but bellyaching about Smoky the Cowhorse, The Dark Frigate, and The Story of Mankind - a book I will likely save until last. Apparently both authors and the Newbery committees of the 1920 hated children. Just hated them.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Miz Lizzie

    As a folklorist I am deeply disappointed in this book and I would be hard pressed to recommend it to any child today. It was hailed at the time as "authentic" but cultural authenticity is regarded a little differently today. It's about as authentic as "The Mikado" (also regarded as "authentic" at the time). It has the trappings of Chinese folklore but it is not Chinese folklore. It is a Western interpretation/appropriation of Chinese folklore. I do like the inclusion of Chinese words and I do ap As a folklorist I am deeply disappointed in this book and I would be hard pressed to recommend it to any child today. It was hailed at the time as "authentic" but cultural authenticity is regarded a little differently today. It's about as authentic as "The Mikado" (also regarded as "authentic" at the time). It has the trappings of Chinese folklore but it is not Chinese folklore. It is a Western interpretation/appropriation of Chinese folklore. I do like the inclusion of Chinese words and I do appreciate, that for the time, it was big step forward in accepting and introducing other cultures to children. But presenting it as authentic Chinese folktales to children today would be a misrepresentation. I think I would have liked it better if, like Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, the author had made clear that it was "inspired" by Chinese folklore though I'm not sure that distinction would have been one understood by the author or readers at that time period. I think perhaps Shen of the Sea could use a little light editing (such as Dr. Dolittle received) or at the very least a forward to clarify the author's use of another culture's bits of folklore to create new literary inventions.

  5. 4 out of 5

    katsok

    Seriously, the Newbery winners of the 1920s are making me despair for the children who were reading them. Doctor Dolittle was good when I read it originally. It now seems like the best book in the history of books in comparison with the other winners. Blah. Smoky is up next.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kati Atwood

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    I read this as part of my quest to read all the Newbery Medal winners sometime before I die. It's taking me that long. Anyway, this one is a product of its time. It's important to remember when reading some of these older books that weren't offensive at the time and our sensibilities are more enlightened now. Hopefully. Taken at face value these are some cute stories about how some things were invented, words came to be, and moral things we should all know. But they are couched in insensitive la I read this as part of my quest to read all the Newbery Medal winners sometime before I die. It's taking me that long. Anyway, this one is a product of its time. It's important to remember when reading some of these older books that weren't offensive at the time and our sensibilities are more enlightened now. Hopefully. Taken at face value these are some cute stories about how some things were invented, words came to be, and moral things we should all know. But they are couched in insensitive language by a story writer and not a folklorist. So don't be looking for authentic Chinese folk tales here.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Nicola Mansfield

    Reason for Reading: Read aloud to my 9yo son. We always have a book of folktales, fairy tales, myths, etc. on the go, reading one story every school day. Comments: I have read this book once before to myself some time ago, as an adult, and came away with the impression that it was OK (maybe 3 stars) but now I think I've found out the problem with that first reading. This book is meant to be read aloud! The stories are told in a storyteller voice that just rolls of the tongue when reading out loud Reason for Reading: Read aloud to my 9yo son. We always have a book of folktales, fairy tales, myths, etc. on the go, reading one story every school day. Comments: I have read this book once before to myself some time ago, as an adult, and came away with the impression that it was OK (maybe 3 stars) but now I think I've found out the problem with that first reading. This book is meant to be read aloud! The stories are told in a storyteller voice that just rolls of the tongue when reading out loud and brings them gloriously to life. The stories are hilarious and I can't say that my ds or I didn't like even a single one the tales. I'm not convinced these are traditional Chinese stories (I've read a lot of folktales in my life and never heard any of these before) but would guess that Chrisman wrote them himself based on the style of Chinese tales. The tales often rely on repetition, some are origin stories and they cover a wide spectrum of characters from peasants to princesses and Kings. A number of the stories are about someone who is not too bright or is incredibly lazy or stubborn. While the great majority of tales are folktales a few pass over into fairytale territory with the appearance of a few dragons and other Chinese mythical creatures. Every single time this book came out my son's face lit up, he thoroughly enjoyed it! I also had a ton of fun reading it. This book has a habit of getting mixed reviews and to those who give it low ratings, I ask you to read aloud a couple of stories to a child or group of children. Then see if you don't change your mind! I've found in my 21 years as a mother that some children's books just beg to be read aloud and don't do the trick when read silently. The only thing I'm not too keen on are the silhouette illustrations. Yes, they add to the ethnicity of the book but detailed drawings would have been more fun to look at.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Crystal

    1926 Newbery Winner Culturally insensitive literature is kind of hard to swallow. There are a few fun aspects to the stories here, but any of the good was wiped out by the enormous amounts of badness. How can the title be "Chinese Stories for Children?" when they are told by a non-Chinese person who gives no citations or real background information about these stories. It seems they are all just made up in what Chrisman determined was the style of Chinese folktales. I much prefer Grace Lin's way 1926 Newbery Winner Culturally insensitive literature is kind of hard to swallow. There are a few fun aspects to the stories here, but any of the good was wiped out by the enormous amounts of badness. How can the title be "Chinese Stories for Children?" when they are told by a non-Chinese person who gives no citations or real background information about these stories. It seems they are all just made up in what Chrisman determined was the style of Chinese folktales. I much prefer Grace Lin's way of doing it. She explained and lets us know how she created the stories in Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. In addition, Chrisman really, really paints the Chinese in a negative light. I am not nearly informed enough to explain all of the ways in which this book is inappropriate culturally, but as I read, I just felt increasingly uncomfortable with the way he characterized the Chinese and it felt that he was completely mishandling the culture of the Chinese. Writing about a people's culture when it is not your own is always a tricky thing to do well. He fails to convince me that he is knowledgeable and careful enough to be selling this to kids. At the time, people probably thought they were great for adding multicultural literature, but honestly, something is not always better than nothing. Oyate has a great way of looking at books like these http://www.oyate.org/index.php?option... These are many of the red flags that went up for me while reading Shen of the Sea.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Warren Truitt

    Arthur Bowie Chrisman was a famous storyteller and collector of tales in the early part of the twentieth century, which is why the stories collected in Shen of the Sea read the way they do. Amusing tales and great adventures, but I'd like to hear them told aloud. I think they would be that much more powerful and humorous.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    I am conflicted. This is one of the more readable and entertaining Newbery winners of its period. It’s just that it claims to be a collection of “Chinese stories,” but from what I can tell these stories have almost no basis in Chinese folklore. While the lack of cultural authenticity and overwhelming orientalist are not surprising given the era in which this book was written, it’s hard to celebrate it today.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    Really this book is 2.5 stars, but I decided to be nice and round up. My enjoyment of the book definitely suffered because of what I wanted the book to be in comparison to what it actually was. As a book of short stories and humorous tales it succeeds more often than not. It is not the best short story collection I've ever read, and I'm not a huge fan of short stories, so this is not going to be anywhere near the top of my "best Newbery winners" list, but the stories themselves were generally en Really this book is 2.5 stars, but I decided to be nice and round up. My enjoyment of the book definitely suffered because of what I wanted the book to be in comparison to what it actually was. As a book of short stories and humorous tales it succeeds more often than not. It is not the best short story collection I've ever read, and I'm not a huge fan of short stories, so this is not going to be anywhere near the top of my "best Newbery winners" list, but the stories themselves were generally enjoyable. The writing style was a bit choppy in places, but there were some genuinely funny turns of phrases here and there, and the stories were more-or-less clever. If I don't see evidence of genius, at least, from a purely readability sense, it's not a bad book. My large problem with the book basically boils down to it having been written in 1925. Understanding of cultural appropriation, accuracy in cultural representation, and how and why someone can say that a story is "Chinese" have changed radically in the last 90 years. None of these stories, as far as I can tell, are actually authentically Chinese. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, a Newbery Honor book in 2010, also features Chinese folktales. But that modern book makes it clear that the author was "inspired" by the tales and is now using them in her own way to tell a slightly different story (which she does fabulously). Here, however, Chrisman presents the stories simply as "Chinese", yet appears to have made them up wholesale. Contemporary practice says that you cannot say that your stories are "Chinese Stories" simply because you chose to set them in China, a land Chrisman had never visited. A land he had apparently never researched either, because there were several little things that even I, who know very little about China, noticed was wrong. Several of the names were clearly written to be "funny" - Hai Low or Ah Fun for example - which is not really appropriate. It's one thing when someone from a culture pokes gentle fun, but it's a significantly different manner when someone from outside that culture does so.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Benji Martin

    I'm finding myself feeling some of the same things I felt after I finished Tales from Silver Lands. I wasn't in love with this book, but I did kind of enjoy reading it. I think some of the harsh criticism it has gotten by some contemporary readers might be a little unwarranted. I've heard the racist word being thrown around a lot by reviewers, but I don't necessarily think that it is racist. There were some characters who might have been buffoons, and some people might think that these people fi I'm finding myself feeling some of the same things I felt after I finished Tales from Silver Lands. I wasn't in love with this book, but I did kind of enjoy reading it. I think some of the harsh criticism it has gotten by some contemporary readers might be a little unwarranted. I've heard the racist word being thrown around a lot by reviewers, but I don't necessarily think that it is racist. There were some characters who might have been buffoons, and some people might think that these people fit into old Chinese stereotypes, but there were also a lot of characters who were admirable and good. Racist is a strong word, and to say that Chrisman saw all Chinese people as inferior or even in a negative way would be, I think a false accusation. Then there's the issue of these stories being actual folklore. Most contemporary reviewers don't seem to think that these stories are actual genuine Chinese folktales. I guess the question you have to ask is, how many people need to tell a story in order for it to be considered a folktale? No, Chrisman never visited China, but he claims to have collected these stories from Chinese immigrants. If even one Chinese immigrant was telling Chrisman these stories, and that person had received the story from someone back in China, then I don't have any problem with these stories being labeled as folklore, even if they weren't told widely throughout the Chinese region. It's really easy for us to look back on the 20's and think, "Those silly people of the past. Why would they even publish this? But they give it the Newbery award?" I think that contemporary people sometimes unfairly look at the citizens of the past in a condescending way. We think that if we had lived back then, we would have done things differently. The librarians and the Newbery committee of the 1920's were awarding the book they thought was the best of the year for the kids of their time. This book made me laugh out loud several times. There were some really good stories here. There were some that dragged too, but for the most part. I am glad that I read it.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    I stopped reading this book after about 1 and a half stories. I found the stories slightly interesting, but got a little hung over the names and places. They were so different from anything I was used to and I had a hard time keeping them straight. I eventually fell asleep while reading this book and never picked it up again. I only feel slightly bad because it is a Newbery Medal. I might recommend this book, it just wasn't for me. *Taken from my book reviews blog: http://reviewsatmse.blogspot.co I stopped reading this book after about 1 and a half stories. I found the stories slightly interesting, but got a little hung over the names and places. They were so different from anything I was used to and I had a hard time keeping them straight. I eventually fell asleep while reading this book and never picked it up again. I only feel slightly bad because it is a Newbery Medal. I might recommend this book, it just wasn't for me. *Taken from my book reviews blog: http://reviewsatmse.blogspot.com/2009...

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

    Newbery Medal Winner--1926 This is the second collection of stories to be awarded the Newbery medal, and like the previous, this one comes from a culture rich in history and story. Many of the stories explain things important to Chinese culture--how chopsticks came to be used, how firecrackers and kites were invented, why plates are called "china." My favorite is probably the story that this collection takes its title from, "Shen of the Sea," a story about water demons who threaten to flood a kin Newbery Medal Winner--1926 This is the second collection of stories to be awarded the Newbery medal, and like the previous, this one comes from a culture rich in history and story. Many of the stories explain things important to Chinese culture--how chopsticks came to be used, how firecrackers and kites were invented, why plates are called "china." My favorite is probably the story that this collection takes its title from, "Shen of the Sea," a story about water demons who threaten to flood a kingdom and are instead entrapped in a bottle by the clever king. An interesting collection.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Linds

    It's a little hard for me to judge this one since I read it right after reading the previous Newbery winner, which is another collection of tales. These are also very cute and absurd, merely in a different setting. It was fun to read, and quite humorous at times. Sometimes it got a little slow, but collections of tales tend to do that when you're reading them in a bunch. Edit: I saw some other reviews, and I didn't get the same vibe toward racism or cultural insensitivity that some other readers It's a little hard for me to judge this one since I read it right after reading the previous Newbery winner, which is another collection of tales. These are also very cute and absurd, merely in a different setting. It was fun to read, and quite humorous at times. Sometimes it got a little slow, but collections of tales tend to do that when you're reading them in a bunch. Edit: I saw some other reviews, and I didn't get the same vibe toward racism or cultural insensitivity that some other readers did. I found the stories goofy and playful, like most fairy tales.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Mitchell

    And the Newbery Winner read/re-read continues. Another early one, and not a good one. A book of unauthentic Chinese folktales told in such a way to make fun of the culture. At best Shaggy Dog stories. There were some that held my attention for a bit, but most of them were just a slog. And besides the dumb names which were clearly chosen to amuse someone by their play on language for English, they also got details about pretty much everything wrong for China. And yet told one at a time these stor And the Newbery Winner read/re-read continues. Another early one, and not a good one. A book of unauthentic Chinese folktales told in such a way to make fun of the culture. At best Shaggy Dog stories. There were some that held my attention for a bit, but most of them were just a slog. And besides the dumb names which were clearly chosen to amuse someone by their play on language for English, they also got details about pretty much everything wrong for China. And yet told one at a time these stories might have worked read aloud with small details changed.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Carl Nelson

    1926 Newbery Medal recipient. 4.5 stars. My favorite of the Newbery winners so far, this is a collection of Chinese folk tales. The stories are fast-paced with larger than life characters. The stories celebrate cleverness, and are shrewdly told such that the reader must beware that things are never what they seem. Philosophy is shown by example (often subtly) rather than being explicitly stated. Very enjoyable read, and I might pick up a copy of my own when I see it for sale.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

    This 1926 Newbery winner is a collection of 16 Chinese tales. Most of them about stupid people who somehow, through their ineptness, invented things the Chinese are famous for such as tea, kites, and china dishes. I found most of them boring and terribly silly. I don’t know if children in 1926 liked it, but can say that for the 25 to 30 years, Shen of the Sea set on my classroom library shelves, not one student checked it out.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Bethany

    Rated G. Absolutely delightful! I have heard of this, but the cover and the title as well as the age of the book kind of gave me a negative impression of the book. Contrary to my expectations, though, Shen of the Sea is a lot of fun. Princes, emperors, lazy and disobedient boys, cute princesses who prefer clay mud pies to golden toys--every short story here is a gem.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Anna Smithberger

    Not the most terrible Newbery winner so far (this challenge will drive me insane until I hit the 40s), but not great. I have trouble trusting that these are accurate folktales as there is no information in the book attesting to origins. And the tone of children's books from the 20s continues to be patronizing and irksome.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Amy-Lynn

    I've finally finished this Newbery Medal winning book. It's one that I could not get into and avoided going back to. I'm glad I didn't give up but I will also not recommend it to any readers (unless s/he is participating in the reading challenge ~ then I'd have to say, some of the stories are not terrible. Some were mildly entertaining).

  23. 5 out of 5

    Martha Berg

    I wish I could tell you what kept me on the edge of my seat. Words fail me. I tried explaining it to others, and half-way through they were bored. Yet, when I read it, I enjoyed it. I don't know . . . I still enjoyed the read.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Wendy

    Unusually entertaining folktales. I know nothing about their accuracy or whether this book is racist/stereotypical, though.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Nathan

    Newbery Medal Year: 1929 Grade Level: 5.4 Accelerated Reader Points: 6 ENJOYMENT: 1.5/5 It is difficult to rate the entire book all as one, since it's a collection of unassociated Chinese folktales—each of variable enjoyment. I did observe that nearer the end, I was reading more to finish than to read, as they'd begun to overstay their welcome. Many stories are origin tales (like the beginning of chopsticks "Chop-Sticks" or gunpowder "That Lazy Ah Fun"), and in that way they reminded me of Kipling's Newbery Medal Year: 1929 Grade Level: 5.4 Accelerated Reader Points: 6 ENJOYMENT: 1.5/5 It is difficult to rate the entire book all as one, since it's a collection of unassociated Chinese folktales—each of variable enjoyment. I did observe that nearer the end, I was reading more to finish than to read, as they'd begun to overstay their welcome. Many stories are origin tales (like the beginning of chopsticks "Chop-Sticks" or gunpowder "That Lazy Ah Fun"), and in that way they reminded me of Kipling's Just So Stories like "How the Camel Got His Hump." But Kipling's stories are far more enjoyable. Of these, I liked "Ah Mee's Invention" (on the printing press) and "Ah Tcha the Sleeper" (on tea), but even these didn't bowl me over. MEANING: 2/5 As folktales, I wouldn't expect these to hold profoundly deep meaning. They're part silly, part moral, part fun. The stories exist mostly for the sake of the stories themselves, which is fine for what it is. AUTHENTICITY: 1.5/5 I'm not qualified to speak to the authenticity of Chinese tales (although I'm not sure that the author Chrisman is either, as he doesn't seem to have a particularly solid affiliation with Chinese culture, as far as I can tell). Many characters carry a sense of honor, virtue, and obedience, which is often attributed to asian cultures. At the same time, some elements of the book (particularly in some of the speaking styles) bordered on racist stereotypes. READABILITY: 1.5/5 The dialogue between Chinese characters frequently sounds translated (although the book was originally written in English). This is to be expected for conversational writing. But the narration also holds a similar sort of language difficulty. From the first page: "That is how the Swa Tou saying originated. When Ching Chi used it, he did so in fun, and, no doubt, to make talk." (Make talk? Why not "to make conversation"?) I stumbled over the writing at times, having to even re-read portions. ENDURANCE: 0.5/5 I had never heard of this book outside of its Newbery place, so it seems to have already faded into relative obscurity. It doesn't feel like one to grow into as a child ages either. Now having read this once, that already feels like one read too many. TOTAL: 1.4/5 CONTENT FLAGS:

  26. 4 out of 5

    Dorothy Weigand

    Two books of short stories completed for the year. This one was nowhere near as impressive as the other one. Many of the stories were hard to follow because of the repeating of certain names (Nu Wa appears twice and Ching Chi thrice as different people), name parts (Ah, Mei, Ching, Fu, Wu, Lang, Ting....) and words that I am sure are not really Chinese at all. What else can one expect though? The book was written by an American in the mid 1920s. I should have realized it would not stand up to su Two books of short stories completed for the year. This one was nowhere near as impressive as the other one. Many of the stories were hard to follow because of the repeating of certain names (Nu Wa appears twice and Ching Chi thrice as different people), name parts (Ah, Mei, Ching, Fu, Wu, Lang, Ting....) and words that I am sure are not really Chinese at all. What else can one expect though? The book was written by an American in the mid 1920s. I should have realized it would not stand up to such works written by Chinese authors. My top two favorite stories are Chop-Sticks because I know the common history of chopsticks, and this is only partially correct. It was because cutlery was seen as dangerous. Specifically knives, by Confucius. And The Moon Maiden because of how outlandish it is. With it's lack of atmosphere, space is way below absolute zero. Ting Tsun would have frozen to death within seconds of leaving the stratosphere. If he were even alive. He would suffocate after maybe a few minutes in the stratosphere. I didn't understand why the King didn't keep his word and then why Ting Tsun didn't confront him about it (with the Dragon King's sword). Also people can't live on the moon or Venus!! With average temperatures on the moon either ~-300˚F/+300˚F and Venus a steady 450-500˚F, you would freeze and boil at the same time. It's just impossible. I wish I knew why people thought you could? I'm not sure if Arthur Bowie Chrisman ever wrote anything else, but I know I won't be reading it if he did. It was a let down. I was very disappointed with this.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Shen of the Sea: Chinese Stories for Children is a delightful little book of folk tales, something that I think Tales from Silver Lands tried to be and failed. Each folk tale embodies its own humor and cleverness—none of them are straightforward or predictable. There’s some sort of moral attached to each one, but not in any obtrusive way as in Aesop’s Fables. Shen of the Sea brings a lightheartedness to these early Newbery Medals that has been absent since The Voyages of Doctor Doolittle. The fol Shen of the Sea: Chinese Stories for Children is a delightful little book of folk tales, something that I think Tales from Silver Lands tried to be and failed. Each folk tale embodies its own humor and cleverness—none of them are straightforward or predictable. There’s some sort of moral attached to each one, but not in any obtrusive way as in Aesop’s Fables. Shen of the Sea brings a lightheartedness to these early Newbery Medals that has been absent since The Voyages of Doctor Doolittle. The folk tales are simple, but not simplistic, and the language, though crowded with Chinese terms and names, is easy to understand and fits well with the nature of the book. Though I found the characters of each tale tended to blur together, their actions and the plot of each tale did not, allowing for memorable moments from each one. I enjoy books like these, and this one reminded me of a story I read when I was little, in some sort of story collection, that was similar in style (all I remember is that it was about 7 Chinese brothers who were identical and each had a special ability that they used to save one of their brother’s skin). Though I’m not ranking the Newbery Medals, Shen of the Sea is my second favorite of the 1920s batch I’ve read so far, behind Doctor Doolittle. Let’s hope the 1929 Medal winner will follow in Shen’s footsteps.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    2.5 stars. I finally finished it; if it had been an ILL book I'd have forced myself to read it in 2 weeks. As it was I renewed it 3-4 times. This is yet another early example of the librarians of the ALA trying to use the Newberys to reward cultural diversity and failing big time.Is it as bad as "The Pigtail of Ah Lee Ben Lo"? No, e.g. no ghastly Ting A Ling for a name. Is it a product of the 1920s full of cultural appropriation and imperialism? Yes. Chrisman never went to China and probably nev 2.5 stars. I finally finished it; if it had been an ILL book I'd have forced myself to read it in 2 weeks. As it was I renewed it 3-4 times. This is yet another early example of the librarians of the ALA trying to use the Newberys to reward cultural diversity and failing big time.Is it as bad as "The Pigtail of Ah Lee Ben Lo"? No, e.g. no ghastly Ting A Ling for a name. Is it a product of the 1920s full of cultural appropriation and imperialism? Yes. Chrisman never went to China and probably never spoke to anyone Chinese. These tales were made up for a Western/American audience to explain the origins of various items: the printing press, chop-sticks, gunpowder, tea, porcelain, and kites. Other stories are wisdom and/or morality tales about using cleverness to solve problems. Chrisman also includes some Anglicized Chinese phrases and words which may or may not be correct (shen/shin for demon and lung/long for dragon are two I recognize). In addition to the problematic proper names (Hai Lo, Ah Mee, Ah Fun), I was really bothered by the dragons who are thoroughly Western European style dragons, not the beneficent Chinese kind. Are the stories funny? Yes, at times, which is why the book gets a half star higher rating than "The Pigtail of Ah Lee Ben Lo". I read this for my 2018 Reading Challenge and my Newbery Challenge.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sandra

    This book of stories was good enough that I finished it, but I didn't think it stood up all that well in comparison with Tales from Silver Lands, the previous year's Newbery Award winner. Ironically, I didn't like the first story in Tales from Silver Lands at all, so I didn't think I'd finish it, but after I did I gave it five stars. The writing in Shen of the Sea is good, and it would be best read aloud. Some of the stories were quite charming, some not very memorable, some just sort of ended an This book of stories was good enough that I finished it, but I didn't think it stood up all that well in comparison with Tales from Silver Lands, the previous year's Newbery Award winner. Ironically, I didn't like the first story in Tales from Silver Lands at all, so I didn't think I'd finish it, but after I did I gave it five stars. The writing in Shen of the Sea is good, and it would be best read aloud. Some of the stories were quite charming, some not very memorable, some just sort of ended and it was hard to figure out why (why not just end 8 sentences earlier, if it is going to seem so random?). Still, I did enjoy it, so that three stars, which often seem to be almost insulting, are very solid: "I liked it." Oh, and I finished reading it at 2:30 on a Sunday morning (!!!) because the neighbors had a very loud party outside, right next door, and didn't quit playing the obnoxious, loud music until 1:48 a.m. Not that I was counting the minutes . . . . At least I had something fairly enjoyable to read that didn't require much out of the reader.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mariah

    This collection of short Chinese traditional tales is timeless. Children will enjoy the twists, as many times the story seems to wrap up, and then several more pages reveal an amusing, surprising extra turn of events. Many of these stories explain how the first something was created, so they are like creation myths, only most stories don't explain how an element of nature arose, instead how a man-made thing came about. Full of superstition, dragons, demons (aka Shen), witches, and naughty childr This collection of short Chinese traditional tales is timeless. Children will enjoy the twists, as many times the story seems to wrap up, and then several more pages reveal an amusing, surprising extra turn of events. Many of these stories explain how the first something was created, so they are like creation myths, only most stories don't explain how an element of nature arose, instead how a man-made thing came about. Full of superstition, dragons, demons (aka Shen), witches, and naughty children, these stories can still be a hit if you just read them out loud with the right inflection to wide-eyed children. I wish the cover of the book could be re-done. These beautiful stories deserve more contemporary artwork to entice our visually-saturated young eyes.

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